The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has said that the amount of counterfeit notes in Nigeria from January to December 2016 was less than one per cent of the total.
The CBN made this known in reaction to claims by a former deputy governor of the apex bank, Obadia Mailafia, that 20 per cent of the currency circulating nationwide is fake.
While speaking at the public hearing on the 2017 budget at the National Assembly on Monday, Mr. Mailafia had said that 20 per cent of the currency circulating in the country is fake.
“Twenty percent of currency circulating in Nigeria is fake; you can’t bring down food prices if you have fake currency circulating,” the former CBN boss had said.
But in a statement released, Tuesday, by Isaac Okorafor, CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, the apex bank refuted the claims, noting that the less than one per cent rate represents 0.0014 per cent or 14 counterfeit pieces out of one million bank notes.
“While we acknowledge that no currency in the world is immune from counterfeiting, we make bold to state that the rate of counterfeiting in Nigeria has been very minimal due to appropriate policies put in place by the Bank,” the CBN said.
“Indeed, our records at the Bank clearly indicate that the prevalence of counterfeit notes in Nigeria from January to December 2016 was LESS THAN ONE PER CENT (0.0014 per cent) or 14 counterfeit pieces out of one million bank notes.”
The apex bank added that in line with its core value of proactivity, it has always endeavoured to use strong security features to make it difficult for dishonest persons to counterfeit the currency, adding that it has also carried out periodic massive nation-wide enlightenment of Nigerians on easy identification of fake banknotes and the reporting of such.
“We therefore find it rather curious that a former high ranking official of the CBN would make such bogus and unauthentic claims apparently calculated to destroy confidence in our national currency and sabotage the collaborative efforts of the CBN and the Federal Government at ensuring enduring stability of the financial system.
“The unfortunate implication of the fabricated claim of the said former official of the Bank, is that it gives the false impression that two bills out of every ten Naira pieces held by an individual is ‘fake’.”
The CBN, the statement said, therefore, challenged Mr. Mailafia to present empirical evidences to the public in support of his claims, noting that the CBN frowns at attempt to counterfeit the naira.
“We therefore challenge the said former CBN official to make public the empirical evidence suggesting that 20 per cent Naira currency in circulation is fake,” the spokesperson said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the CBN frowns strongly at attempts to counterfeit the Naira. We remain committed to safeguarding the value of the Naira by ensuring that our Naira banknotes are not susceptible to counterfeiting.
“We also work constantly with relevant security agencies to monitor and check the activities of counterfeiters.”
The bank, however, called on Nigerians to disregard the claims and report suspected cases of counterfeiting to the appropriate quarters.
“Members of the public are therefore advised to disregard the false alarm raised by the said former CBN official, be wary of the activities of counterfeiters and report any case of counterfeiting to the police and their banks,” it said.